The 5th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES-2014) wrapped up Friday night in Marrakech, after three days of intense debate on how to encourage and promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
Launched in 2009 by US President Barack Obama, the GES has become a rendezvous of young leaders and entrepreneurs from around the world.
This international event brought together a record 6,800 participants, including 35 percent of women, 40 percent foreigners, and some 600 students.
Some 194 participants took part in this meeting, covered by 405 representatives of national and international media. Around 22 million people followed the summit sessions throughout the world, including 7.5 million on Facebook and 14.5 million on Twitter.
US administrator for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Maria Contreras-Sweet hailed Morocco’s important role in Africa’s development, saying Kingdom is a gateway to develop the African continent.
The senior US official said: “We are so pleased that Morocco came forward to sponsor this event. From the American view, Morocco is the gateway to develop the continent of Africa”.
Contreras-Sweet emphasized in Morocco that there are “so many men and women who have wonderful ideas” for entrepreneurial projects which can work both in Morocco and elsewhere in the world.
She further highlighted the important contribution of SMEs for economic recovery, noting that two-thirds of the jobs created in the United States are coming from the small and medium business community.
On Thursday, the Chairman of the Board of the Agency Moroccan Solar Energy (Masen), Mustapha Bakkoury, presented to the participants the Moroccan Solar Plan, which aims to eventually become the biggest project of its kind in the world.
Mr. Bakkoury noted that Morocco has decided to engage in this project so as to have control over its energy future, noting that this choice was also dictated by the need to master the country’s energy needs .
Moroccan strategy in the subject, he said, was well supported by all of Moroccan society, adding that solar energy project will meet the tangible needs of Morocco in terms of electricity.
At a plenary on ”innovations in financing entrepreneurship” several bankers exchanged on how to enable entrepreneurs to obtain funding based on the requirements of different types of investors, from early to international deployment.
Tariq Sijilmassi, CEO of Crédit Agricole delivered the three keys to ensure access to finance,” Designing a good project viable, developing the accessibility and the bridge between the entrepreneur and the financial system, and developing tools for credit adapted to the needs of the entrepreneur”
For its part, Said Ibrahimi, CEO of Moroccan Financial Board, noted the need to develop in Africa specific funding for seed capital and growth, to help entrepreneurs contribute to the development of their country but also that of the continent. He put forward in this sense the ambition of Casablanca Finance City (CFC) as an active institution to help create companies and bring talent, while ensuring their access to capital funding and by providing a platform that offers diverse investment opportunities in Africa.
Issam Cheleuh, founder of Impact Group Africa (Mali), called for the implementation of the concept of “impact investments” which amounts are placed in companies, agencies and funds in order to produce a measurable social and environmental impact alongside financial performance.
Ivorian Eric Kacou, co-founder and CEO of Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners emphasized the relevance of setting up funds to even favors collecting funds to help contractors, while providing training tools to bring investors and entrepreneurs.
The conclave of Marrakech also offered a real platform for discussion and reflection on the measures to be implemented to prepare women and young people to meet the new economic challenges, especially in the African continent.
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2014), which is being held in Marrakech, will mark a new beginning for a better integration of African women in the business world, said Ms. Barbabra Rwodzi, founder and CEO Zimbabwean Barrué Knitwear Company, specializing in the textile sector.